What We Do In Remembrance

Scripture Focus: 1 John 4.19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Reflection: What We Do In Remembrance
By John Tillman 

Holidays in a time of pandemic are strange, aren’t they?

Most have gone through Lent and now Eastertide without gathering or celebrating as normal, and now on Memorial Day in the United States, we attempt to remember those who gave their lives in active military service without the traditional large gatherings, family cookouts, and other, more formal solemnities. 

While military service members who have died are the focus of this day, it is difficult for our minds not to turn to the many doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who are not active military members, but have died fighting a very real war against a very real virus. 

Medical personnel have been enduring stresses, schedules, and dangers similar to those they would experience in wartime. Their stresses and dangers are real and are exacerbated by the war-like tenor of public and political grandstanding by so many political leaders, and unfortunately some faith leaders, on the issues surrounding the crisis. 

So, on this Memorial Day let us remember that in word and in deed we are charged, commanded, and compelled by the Holy Spirit of God to enact and speak love in tangible ways to those around us. 

May we do so in remembrance of Jesus. We are called to strip ourselves of pride and clothe ourselves for service in ways that others deem unseemly or demeaning. We are charged to take up our cross and clothe ourselves not in “rights” but in righteousness.  

We do this not because we are loving people, but because He is a loving God. We love because of him (1 John 4.19) and hate in spite of him. If we do not or will not show love to others, we are in rebellion against God’s Holy Spirit (1 John 4.20) and are hardening our hearts, becoming more and more insensitive to His leading and to needs around us.

On this day, and on all the days to come, may we allow the Holy Spirit to re-soften our hearts toward his leading and toward our neighbors’ needs. May we be led toward loving actions and may loving and truthful words be placed on our tongues and on our keyboards. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 26 (Listen – 2:58)
1 John 4 (Listen – 2:58)

Read more about Dirty Feet
Jesus, he turned everything upside down…Jesus washed each of the disciples’ feet, even Judas’…

Read more about Servants in the Age of Showboats
Whether in politics or in the church, so many of our leaders lead in the opposite way that Jesus described to his disciples, each lording their power over one another.

Complete Our Joy — Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: 1 John 1.4
We write this to make our joy complete.

Reflection: Complete Our Joy — Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

John, the beloved disciple, was not writing in a time of peace, happiness, or good circumstances for the church, yet his writing rings with riotous joy. This joy permeated the church despite the pervasiveness of persecution and the pressures of the surrounding culture.

The church was threatened by attacks of all kinds. There were political threats from Rome. There were theological threats from multiple directions, including Greco/Roman philosophers denying the facts of Jesus’ physical incarnation, and pressure from Jews who wanted to keep enforcing Jewish customs. 

There were also threats from industry and business. Christianity’s ideological assault on idolatry, impacted a booming business both in material goods and travel. This caused riots by those whose livelihoods (and political positions) depended on idolatry. 

In some ways, our age is not that different. Like the ten plagues of Egypt were direct attacks on the pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses, every Christ-like principle attacks one of our cultures’ idols. Greed, selfishness, lust, materialism, radical individualism, and power, just to name a few, each have commercial industries that monetize them.

But despite the pressures and oppression surrounding the church today and despite the uncertainty and danger of threats both viral and political, we can join in praying a joy-filled poem based on the opening passage of John’s first epistle. The purpose of this writing, John states, is to complete our joy. May it do so.

Prayer to Complete Joy
From the beginning, Lord, you were
Maker of Earth
Painter of Sky
Speaker of Word

In humility, Lord, you stayed
To be touched
To be seen
To be heard

Suffering, Lord, you pursued
To bleed
To die
To rise

Joyful, Lord, we proclaim
Your words
Your death
Your life

In fellowship, Lord, make us
More holy
More loving
More true

We pray this to make our joy complete
In suffering
In struggle
In you

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. — Psalm 105:4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 23 (Listen – 2:50)
1 John 1 (Listen – 1:28)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 24 (Listen – 3:11), 1 John 2 (Listen – 4:04)
Isaiah 25 (Listen – 1:59), 1 John 3 (Listen – 3:21)

Read more about Joy in The Way of the Cross
Don’t be surprised if you are set at nought. It is part of the way of the Cross.

Read more about The Prayer From the Cross
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

How Are You Waiting? :: Hope of Advent

*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share a link to this devotional, or this subscription link, or use the sharing links included in the sidebar to help them join us.

Scripture Focus: 1 John 5.1-3
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

Reflection: How Are You Waiting? :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

Especially during the holidays, we are familiar with the feelings of awaiting the arrival of loved ones. The way we wait often varies. On my mother’s side of the family, my Granny and family waited in a celebratory way.

When we were expected at my granny’s home, in the deep country of northern Mississippi, the sound of our tires on the gravel road would announce our coming perhaps a mile before we got there. At times, we rolled up to the house with our relatives’ dogs baying and running along beside us and cousins riding bikes in our wake of dust. We would barely have the car parked before a joyful command from my Granny’s throat would be shouted out the screen door to us, “Get in this house!” It was both an unmistakable command, shouted in the same voice that might say “don’t touch that stove,” and a celebratory description of what was about to happen. We would rush up to cross her threshold and be embraced tightly and enthusiastically. I can best describe it as “lovingly-aggressive anticipation.”

When I go to my parents’ home today, unless I drop by unannounced, the experience is similar. The drapes are open so they can see when we drive up. The door is unlocked and we just walk in. I am usually met at the door with a hug of greeting, or sometimes a shout from the kitchen, “Come on in!” or “Get in here!” Our arrival is not simply expected, but prepared for and anticipated with longing. We are not simply welcomed, but celebrated. This is how the Church waits in the time of Advent. 

Advent is a time in which we leave the front door unlocked for we know the time of Christ’s coming. It is a time in which, we open the front drapes to see down the driveway, we listen for the engine in the distance, the thunderous roll of tires on gravel roads. 

When we do the joyful work of anticipation and preparation for Christ’s Advent, we may find that it is actually we who are coming home. We are reflecting the anticipation of the Father. And it is actually the voice of Christ who will one day shout with lovingly-aggressive anticipation, “Get in this house!” as we cross the threshold of Heaven.

May we prepare and anticipate the coming of Christ.
May we say to him, “get in this house,” inviting him into our churches, our communities, our homes, and our hearts.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Hosanna, Lord, hosanna!…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. — Psalm 118.25-26

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 6:12-42 (Listen -7:17) 
1 John 5 (Listen -3:00)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 7 (Listen -4:07), 2 John (Listen -1:50)
2 Chronicles 7 (Listen -3:02), 3 John (Listen -1:51)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more from A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
During Advent we trim our lamps and supply ourselves with oil that we may be ready when Christ comes.

Read more about End of Year Giving
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Who Are You Waiting For? :: Hope of Advent

*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share a link to this devotional, or this subscription link, or use the sharing links included in the sidebar to help them join us.

Scripture Focus: 1 John 4.16-17, 20
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus…Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Reflection: Who Are You Waiting For?
By John Tillman

Back in the days when one could go to the gate and meet friends as they came off of the plane, I was a part of a group that played a joke on a friend of ours returning on a flight. We gathered with a simple sign to hold as we awaited our friend and arrived at the gate early enough that we were the first ones waiting.

Then, as now, people coming off of a plane didn’t normally hesitate—they would hustle off to baggage claim or the exits. But on that day as people began to stream off of the plane, they saw our sign. A few simply chuckled and moved on, but some, due to curiosity, seemed to find all manner of reasons to stand around the gate chatting. They were interested to see who was getting off of the plane.

The crowd grew as our friend was one of the last people to exit the plane. As the tension mounted, we almost abandoned our plan. But when our friend finally appeared, we cheered loudly and we proudly held our sign up: “Congratulations! Not Guilty!”

I don’t know if any of those who witnessed our prank realized it was a joke. They may have been curious about whether they would recognize the face getting off the plane from the news. But I do know they were interested in who was coming because of how we were waiting.

Are people interested in the Christ you are waiting for? Maybe that has to do with how you are waiting? A child waiting for a parent to come home and administer a punishment behaves differently than one waiting for a parent to come home and ease a broken heart. A child waiting for a parent to bring home test results behaves differently than one waiting for a parent to bring home a present.

What you do while you wait, tells people who you are waiting for and what you think about them. What do people see when they see us waiting for Christ? What does that make them assume about Christ’s identity?

What, or who, are you waiting for?

May we wait for Christ expectantly, with energetic hope.
May we prepare the way for Christ by doing what we would expect him to do on behalf of others. 
May we prepare the way for Christ by being the kind of servant that Christ lived as when he was among us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. — Psalm 62.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 5=6:11 (Listen -9:57) 
1 John 4 (Listen -2:58)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more about Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent
Christ’s Advent will be revealing in our lives. Too often what we hope for condemns us…Let go of the sinful things you hope for. Give them up to him

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Of Waiting and Giving :: Hope of Advent

*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share a link to this devotional, or this subscription link, or use the sharing links included in the sidebar to help them join us.

Scripture Focus: 1 John 3.16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Reflection: Of Waiting and Giving :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

Advent, which could be a pleasant time of anticipating God’s gift, has become a stressful time of accumulating other gifts. 

Rather than counting the days until the gift of Christ is given, we count the days left to purchase gifts for others. Blessing others with generosity is a good practice all year long, but consumer culture twists gift-giving into a selfish game of reciprocation. We give presents in order to get them as well.

The two practices could not have more different effects on our souls. As we count diminishing shopping days, the weighty dread of worldly expectations is piled upon us like the debt we incur through our spending. As we count diminishing days until the gift of Christ arrives, the heady joy of heavenly expectations lifts our souls, removing the debt we incur through our sin.

So do we boycott giving? By no means.

No matter how twisted our culture becomes, there are always ways to live redemptively in it. Christians have always excelled at reclaiming customs fouled by greed (or any other form of sin or idolatry) and refurbishing them with a gospel flair. 

So as you hear the trumpeting of diminishing shopping days, pushing you toward consumeristic fervor,  think of the trumpets that will announce Christ’s second advent that will bring an end to striving and selfishness.

As you purchase gifts for those dear to you, remember how dear you are to God that he would spend so recklessly to redeem you.

As you push through throngs and mobs of travelers and shoppers, remember the throngs of travelers that filled Bethlehem’s beds, pushing our outcast Savior to sleep in a manger. Think of the crowds that pressed in, hoping to hear his message. Think of the mobs who beat, spit on, and stripped him, nailing him to the cross as he fulfilled the gospel on our behalf.

And as you remember how Christ gave…give, and give, and give. What are you waiting for? 

Give to those around you, to your loved ones, and to those organizations making a difference in the world. Give to those who can’t give back. Give until the only explanation for your generosity is that Christ is giving through you.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 3-4 (Listen -5:42) 
1 John 3 (Listen -3:21)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more about Hope on a Limb :: Hope of Advent
What we hope for in Advent is not a resource of earthly wealth, success, fame, and power.

Read more about supporting our work
Running an ad-free website means there is no ad revenue supporting tech expenses that come in throughout the year. End-of-year giving helps us set aside money to pay for large tech expenses whenever they may come due. 

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